When it comes to cookware, few metals offer the superior thermal conductivity of aluminum. But, because aluminum can be dangerous to ingest in very large doses, some are wary of purchasing aluminum cookware. When tested, cooking experts found that cooking acidic foods in aluminum cookware can cause trace amounts of aluminum to leach into your food, giving your food a slightly metallic taste and even damaging the cookware itself. So, if you're in the market for the best stainless steel cookware without an aluminum surface, you've come to right place.
In the search for aluminum-free stainless steel cookware, first read the fine print and make sure the cookware you buy has a stainless steel cooking surface. Word to the wise: Your primary concern with avoiding aluminum in your pots and pans should be making sure it doesn't come in contact with your food. For that reason, you don’t need to be concerned if the bottom or a percentage of the internal core contains other metals besides stainless steel. When safely encased in a high-quality stainless steel or placed at the bottom of a pot or pan, metals like aluminum contribute to better heat retention and more consistent cooking results, without exposing your food to aluminum.
As for the amount of pots and pans you need, that'll be up to you and your cooking style. But rest assured, there are some great options on this list in varying sizes, and even one single pan if you're just dipping your toes in the water of aluminum-free cookware.
The best stainless steel cookware without aluminum is gathered up, below.
1. The Overall Best: Lagostina 13-Piece Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Set
If you’re on a mission to swap-out all of your current pots and pans for stainless steel, you can’t go wrong with this 13-piece set from Italian brand Lagostina. The thick-bottom design retains heat, and the three-layer construction is sturdy enough to handle metal utensils and the dishwasher. Beneath the stainless steel exterior is an aluminum core that evenly maintains heat to prevent scorching and hot spots, but doesn't expose your food to any direct contact with aluminum. The stockpot and large braising pan have helper handles for easy lifting and transport, and five lids are included to provide a full suite of options for preparing your favorite recipes. Best yet, this cookware set is oven-safe and even comes with a lifetime warranty. Reviewers rave, "The set includes almost everything we need, and they look really beautiful. I've worked in restaurants and kitchens for years, and this is a high-quality set that stands up so a lot of the industrial ones I've used."
2. The Most Affordable Set: Cooks Standard 10-Piece Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Slightly smaller than the overall best cookware set, this 10-piece set from Cooks Standard is a bargain at less than $150. It has a similar construction with a multi-ply stainless steel exterior and an aluminum core that helps it heat efficiently and retain the correct temperature, without coming into contact with your food. Each pot and pan in this set includes a lid for cooking versatility, and the larger pieces have helper handles to enable safe and convenient lifting. And, as the only option featured here that comes with a stainless steamer insert, this set can be used for a variety of cooking styles to keep things interesting at mealtime. It's also oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and can even be safely cleaned in your dishwasher.
One Amazon fan says, "I use your pots and pans for everything, every day. They come clean after washing them. I had similar pots that I received as a gift about 40 years ago and finally got rid of the last pot that was falling apart. Receiving and using these pots was the best surprise. Since my last pot fell apart I purchased a few other stainless steel pans that were expensive. They did not even come close to these pots and pans. This is the best purchase I have made in a very long time."
3. The Best Single Pan: All-Clad 12-Inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan With Lid
While this option from premium cookware brand All-Clad doesn’t come cheap, all you have to do is read its stellar reviews to understand why people are willing to make the investment. If you want to transition to stainless steel cookware and have to pick just one pan, this 12-inch fry pan and lid is your best choice. All-Clad’s polished stainless steel cook surface is nonreactive and super durable, and the pan is oven- and broiler-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. And, the interior is made with a three-ply core with a two layers of stainless steel encapsulating a single layer of aluminum, protecting your food from any contamination. Fans also love that the low-profile edge of the pan makes it easy to get under foods like steaks or grilled sandwiches for easy flipping.
If cost isn't a concern and you want the ultimate stainless steel cookware set without an aluminum surface, you can upgrade to All-Clad’s 10-piece set of tri-ply bonded cookware.
4. The Best For Small Kitchens: Magma Products 10-Piece Gourmet Nesting Stainless Steel Cookware Set
If storage space is a concern for you, or if you’re the outdoorsy type that likes to travel with your cookware, this set from Magma Products is a great option. In fact, its mirror finish is made from marine-grade stainless steel. The construction has an aluminum core, and the bottom is made from stainless steel, aluminum, and magnetic-stainless steel for superior heat distribution no matter where you take it. But, since there is no aluminum in the cooking surface, your food will be safe from contamination. This set is also oven- and dishwasher-safe, and each of the lids is interchangeable so its ease of use is top notch. The 10-piece set includes everything a range of items suitable for a full kitchen, but can be taken on the road and stored easily thanks to the detachable handles. When the handles are removed, the pots and pans nest together, taking up less than half of a cubic foot of space. Once packed together, a bungee cord secures the set into a compact bundle.
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